Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Flashback: Getting In Tune With Kowloon - January 2014

Written by Adam.
Directly across the harbor from Hong Kong proper, Kowloon is but a short ferry ride away.  But, the contrast between Hong Kong and Kowloon could not be greater.  Kowloon hosts such cultural sites as the Hong Kong Museum of Art, the Hong Kong Museum of History, the Hong Kong Science Museum, and even the Hong Kong Space Museum.  Other aspects of the waterfront promenade include the Chinese version of an Avenue of the Stars, honoring the rich moviemaking tradition that featured Hong Kong as a home base for the Chinese movie industry that produced entertainment for a broad domestic and global audience.

Unfortunately, in spite of the myriad cultural offerings, Kowloon is also a tourist drag of the finest order.  It seems as if the ample shopping opportunities available in Hong Kong have been replicated in Kowloon, but with much greater density and opportunity.  If you like shopping at Salvatore Ferragamo, you need to wait in a line and be admitted into the shop by their retail “bouncer”.  The massive indoor malls seem to only cater to the shopper who fancies designer labels and status purchases.  The Rolls Royce is the King of the Road in Kowloon, and some were so large you had to wonder if they were of the armored variety.    
The general mood on the busy streets of Kowloon was almost Christmas-like in its intensity - and it was already well into February.  Being a visiting wide-eyed Westerner, I was particularly targeted for endless inquiries as to perhaps whether or not I needed a new suit custom-made for me.  Hawkers descended upon you on the sidewalk, schlepping just about everything in a direct marketing confrontation.  Sales leaflets were often thrust into your hands, and mumbled questions were directed towards you in spite of any indifference you might suggest with your body language.

It often got to the point that you wanted to board the ferry again and return to the more peaceful Hong Kong side of the harbor, where you were generally left alone while window shopping, or even just walking down the street.  While it resembles Hong Kong greatly in architecture and enjoys a very close visual proximity, the two places could not be more different from one another close-up, at least to this observer.

Fortunately, the Kowloon Waterfront had one redeeming aspect - if you keep your back to the Hong Kong Cultural Centre to avoid visually encountering a true architectural monstrosity - it was the perfect vantage point to view the impressive skyline of Hong Kong, especially at night.  Still, Kowloon was really quite a mixed bag.  Maybe Kowloon is not so jarringly different from Hong Kong to a local.  Perhaps it was the overly-enthusiastic remnants of the Chinese Lunar New Year season winding down.  Or, perhaps it was that I really should consider buying a new suit.  Maybe I should take the hint that my t-shirt and jeans prosperity was a little bit understated?  But, when the ferry costs just about twenty six cents to ride over from Hong Kong - and the same amount to flee Kowloon - maybe being a truly big spender is within reach for me somewhere else.

The classic Chinese lantern, although this time not in basic colors.

The shopping malls went all out with fine silk displays.

It looked better when the architect drew it up.

A kid dreaming of movie stardom with Hong Kong as an audience.

Bruce Lee, local movie icon.

Ready for her close-up.

Leftover lanterns from the Chinese New Year's celebration.

Floating junk - but basic transportation.

The correct side of the harbor in more ways than one.


Sabine said...

Hi Karen and Adam

Where are you? We hope everything is alright?! We will leave Belize soon and hoping to see you in Guatemala!

Safe travels!
Sabine and Andy

karie said...

Hi guys,

It's Karie and Simon here. Last time we met was in San Miguel de Allende. I just ran into your blog and surprise!...it's a blog about my hometown! I enjoy reading about it from your perspective. So what's now? Hope you are enjoying your travels. We are in CR. Look forward to your next post.